Watchful Following

How It Works

This puzzle is solved in three steps. The first step is clued by the primer text at the back of the book.

Step 1: Lucky Syllables

Step 1: Lucky Syllables The primer text, after some interesting but useless background on haiku, informed you that Western style haiku were “typically written in three lines consisting of five, seven, and five syllables.” Observant readers should have noticed, however, that each of the haiku in “Watchful Following” had one too many syllables. The primer text went on to explain that haiku are sometimes written with an extra “lucky” syllable on one line, and that such haiku are “usually accompanied by a symbol indicating which the lucky one is.” Teams should have noticed that each haiku had an illustration on the facing page, and that each illustration contained a number. Using that number to index (syllables, not words or letters) into the line of the accompanying haiku that was too long, teams formed a message: This is a haiku! Count the objects that are red to find more clues for Sam. (Sam was the name of the detective in the story.)

Step 2: Seeing Red

Taking the advice of this hidden message, teams counted up the number of red objects in each picture. Using this number, teams indexed back into the too-long lines of the haiku, and found another message: Knowing that I can judge a book by its covers, I decode the answer.

Step 3: A Book by its Covers

At this point, teams realized that the front and back cover illustrations of “Watchful Following” had the same properties as the illustrations inside: each contained a number, and some red things. The message informing them to “judge a book by its covers” should have clued teams that they will repeat the processes they had used inside using the covers somehow, but this required a pair of haiku. Rereading the first message they decoded, teams noticed that it informed them that it was a haiku. The two secret messages, formatted as haiku, became:
This is a haiku!
Count the objects that are red
To find more clues for Sam.

Knowing that I can
Judge a book by its covers,
I decode the answer.


Using the front cover on the first meta-haiku and the back cover on the second yielded the syllables “Sam,” “more,” “I,” and “code.”

Taking the syllables pulled out of the meta-haiku together, you get “Sam more I code”, or “Samurai code.” The samurai code of ethics is, of course, BUSHIDO.

Design Notes

In early versions of this puzzle, “count the objects that are red” was supposed to have a dual meaning: both things that were the color red, and things that could be read (such as books, clocks, etc.). Most of our playtesters found this double meaning kind of cute, but very few were able to figure out that they were meant to include books and clocks and such in their totals in step 2, even with repeated attempts to work clues into the puzzle. There was also a lot of ambiguity around what could be “read.” Whether things like calendars, numbers on houses, and posters counted was a matter of much debate, both among GC and among playtesters. In the end, it was determined that this aspect of the puzzle was too confusing, and it was cut.

GC Notes